qualification for heads or tails


Posted today at 6:00 am

Heads or tails? Inside the stadium, the room falls on the right side for Italy. And it is thus, by lot, that the host country eliminates the USSR in the semi-final of Euro 1968. Providential helping hand for the public of the San Paolo stadium in Naples, who no longer knew exactly what "San" will dedicate, this June 5, during this indecisive meeting (0-0).

The trophy, won five days later by Italy, is only in its third edition. Much remains to be done, including from a regulatory point of view. In this case, no penalty shootout is at the time scheduled to decide between two teams at the end of the overtime. So go for a draw in the dressing room of the referee, Kurt Tschenscher …

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Rather, he had considered proceeding under the open sky. But the leaders of the Soviet and Italian football federations preferred a "Quiet place"will tell the German referee much later in 2008 in an interview with the magazine 11 Freunde.

"A Turkish gaming token"

The draw therefore takes place away, in accordance with the wishes of two influential leaders: on the Soviet side, Valentin Granatkin, then vice-president of the International Federation; Italian side, Artemio Franchi, who will also occupy this function thereafter.

Rather than a classic coin, Kurt Tschenscher claims to have used … "A Turkish gaming token that a colleague (him) had a given day. " "On one side, there was a ball, on the other, a football goal. It was therefore not necessary to choose “heads or tails”, but rather “ball or goal”. "

Giacinto Facchetti of Italy after a straight toss against the USSR in the semi-finals on June 5, 1968 in Naples.

Decades later, the tale of the only single euro game ended continues to be remembered. Even if these sometimes diverge. In official history, the choice of the flip side of the coin is given to the Italian captain, Giacinto Facchetti.

"I ran back to the field to celebrate, the former Inter Milan player will later say on the UEFA website. The stadium was still full and 70,000 people were waiting to hear the results. My frantic race made them understand that they could celebrate Italian qualification. "

Italy reduced to "nine and a half"

In his interview with 11 Freunde, Kurt Tschenscher tells another story, however. According to the match official, the captains remained at the door of his dressing room, and it was the president of the Italian federation, Artemio Franchi, who chose the right side ("That of the football goal"), after a test run favorable to the USSR. Now go and solve the mystery …

One thing is for sure: at the time, the regulations also did not provide for replacements during the match. The Italians played ten against eleven for most of the game after Gianni Rivera's injury to a thigh from the 5the minute. One of their best offensive assets (with "Gigi" Riva), star of AC Milan and future Ballon d'Or 1969 … well before becoming a deputy (center left) of the European Parliament. "Another of my teammates suffered from cramps, so we actually ended the game with nine and a half", adds Facchetti.

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This piecemeal outcome will also have deprived the Euro of a fine goalkeeper duel. If the regulations had provided for it, the shooting session would have pitted two of the greatest “gatekeepers” in football history, the Soviet Lev Yachine and the Italian Dino Zoff, from a distance. Who knew the San Paolo stadium well to play there all season with the Naples club.

Still possible in World Cup

In 1968, the absence of shots on goal in the regulations also led to replaying the final which, on Saturday, was concluded with a draw after extra time (1-1) and could not be won at heads or tails. The following Monday, the Italians finally won "their" Euro against Yugoslavia (2-0), in an Olympic stadium in Rome much less crowded in the second than in the first match.

A year earlier, the draw had already sealed Lyon's victory in the 1967 Coupe de France semi-final: victory after extra time (3-3) against Angoulême, a second division team. In the fall of 1968, the lot was more cruel towards the players of Marseilles, eliminated by the Turkish team of Izmir, in the first round of the defunct Cup of the cities of fairs.

If the current rules of the Euro have now removed the possibility of a draw to decide between teams, this mode of qualification still exists today, as a last resort, in the regulations of the World Cup or even in that of the African Cup of Nations (as in 2015, for the benefit of Guinea) – but only for the matches of the first round.

Find our Top 30 matches that marked the Euro


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